There isn’t any “one” specific formula for nutrition on the bike. Jared Picune, one of our 2016 Subaru Elephant Rock Cycling Festival Ambassadors, shares a very unique approach to cycling nutrition and how it’s worked for him.
I will start off this post with a warning: My nutritional approach differs greatly from the norm. You might be very surprised with what I suggest, and even more surprised how well it actually works. I don’t suggest anyone try a new approach without testing well before the day of the event, but I do encourage everyone to consider my approach.
Completing the Elephant Rock Century is an endurance event. An event that can last from four to ten hours, depending on the rider. It’s important that the body has nutrients to power through.
Traditionally we’ve been lead to believe that carbs are the preferred fuel source for cycling. But there is a major limitation with using carbohydrates for fuel: We can only store so much. For an endurance event like the Elephant Rock Century ride, it’s possible to use up all of our glycogen stores. When that happens we have to take in more glucose to keep going. (Which is why gels are so popular.)
Excess glucose is not particularly healthy, and can cause many health problems over the years. You also have to keep taking in fuel to keep going.
Because endurance cycling is mostly an aerobic sport, our bodys can burn stored fat for energy. The good news with fat is we have plenty of storage. Even if we have very little body fat there is enough to keep a cyclist going for days.
The trick is we have to train our bodies to use fat for fuel instead of carbs. It’s easy to do, just eat a high fat diet and train in your aerobic zone. It may take a few weeks for your body to adjust, but your notice some amazing things. You can go longer on less and you’ll no longer have blood sugar crashes.
A lot of people are worried about eating a lot of fat? But the truth is fat doesn’t make us fat, carbs do. Big brand marking starting in the 1980’s made us all believe that fat was evil, but today since has proven that’s not the case. In fact, cholesterol has been proven to not have a direct correlation to heart disease but and essential lipid that is used in every cell in the body.
With the aversions of fat asides, how can you use it in your century ride? I’ll tell you what I’ll be doing for Elephant Rock this year.
I’ll wake up, and start the day my making a Bulletproof Coffee. This is coffee blended with grass fed butter and MCT oil. It comes out like a creamy latte, so delicious. This will get me through the first couple hours of the ride.
On the bike I’ll pack a bottle with a scoop of UCAN SuperStarch. Now SuperStarch is a carb that has been modified to act as a fat. It’s super-slow burning, keeping your body in fat burn mode. It will also help stabilize your blood sugar. I mix this with water, MCT oil and essential amino acids with the addition of some electrolytes.
I’ll sip on this bottle during the ride and usually finish it off a little after the halfway point. The rest of the time I just take in water. That’s it, simple.
Since the majority of the ride I’ll be in my aerobic zone, I’ll be burning fat as my primary fuel source. Sure I’ll tap in to some stored carbs on a few hills, but it will be for very short periods of time and I’ll go nowhere near using up my stores.
If you are curious to try using fat as your primary cycling fuels, there are numerous resources online to get more information. And even Tour de France cyclists are using this approach to give them an edge in the peloton. Try for yourself, be faster, healthier and more satisfied.